Bucharest has begun negotiations with the Israeli government for the purchase of the Iron Dome air defense system, Romanian Defense Minister Vasile Dincu said on Wednesday, referring to a television interview he gave the previous evening.
Speaking as a guest on Digi 24 news television, the minister confirmed Israeli press reports that there are “good chances” that Romania will be the first European country to purchase the defense system.
The Iron Dome has proven its effectiveness on several occasions, destroying the vast majority of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel.
The Romanian defense minister was interviewed by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on the sidelines of his visit to Israel last week. During the interview, he refused to talk about the acquisition of the Iron Dome, saying only that Romania has an “old-fashioned” military industry and is interested in acquiring innovative Israeli technologies, as Israel not only wants to sell military equipment but also seems willing to license its production in Romania.
Dincu confirmed to Digi 24 on Tuesday that he had also discussed the purchase of the Iron Dome with the Israeli defense minister. Although the U.S.-Israeli co-developed technology is protected by an embargo,
Dincu said Romania did have a “good chance” of acquiring the system for its air defense.
Work is currently under way to renew the Romanian-Israeli military cooperation agreement, which includes the production in Romania of some elements of ballistic defense systems, but “not necessarily of the Iron Dome,” said the Romanian minister.
The Iron Dome was co-developed by the Israeli defense company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and the U.S.-based Raytheon group, which also produces the Patriot missile defense system, for around $4 billion. Israel put it into service in 2011 and since then only two have been sold to the U.S. military for $373 million. Azerbaijan also bought one battery during the term of U.S. President Donald Trump. One battery costs $150 million, and each interceptor missile costs $50,000.
Several countries — Singapore, Canada, South Korea, India, Finland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — have bought only the radar of the Iron Dome system, the Romanian press quoted Haaretz as saying. While highly effective against both missiles and artillery shells, one battery of the Iron Dome can only cover a small area of no more than 150 square kilometers, meaning it is most effective in small countries like Israel. Even there, the batteries have to be moved around according to perceived threats.